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German-Americans Celebrate, Worry Over Unification With AM-Germany Bjt

October 3, 1990

Undated (AP) _ German-Americans applauded their homeland’s unification Wednesday but warned it will take long and hard work to improve the economy of the former East Germany. Veterans who had to fight a unified Germany said it was time to forgive - but not forget.

An ABC News poll found that 80 percent of 1,002 Americans in a random telephone survey support unification and 79 percent see no threat. Among Americans older than 65, those of fighting age in World War II, eight in 10 approved of a united Germany.

People who faced the Nazi Holocaust had a different view. Joel Rubin, who fled the Nazis when he was 12, was the only one of 97 people in his extended family to escape the Nazis during World War II.

″I don’t trust them. I cannot trust the Germans,″ he said in Miami Beach, Fla.

Others were cheerier.

″I wish I could be there to help celebrate. I’m happy for Germany and for all the people,″ said Lena Bremer, 61, of Freistatt, Mo., who spent her first 20 years in East Germany.

The East Germans envy the higher standard of living the West Germans have enjoyed for years, Bremer said.

″I think there will be some jealousy involved,″ she said. ″They (East Germans) think that they were cheated for so many years.″

Patricia Feltes, a Southwest Missouri State University assistant professor of management, said Germans she has talked to favored reunification but know there will be a price to pay for it.

″There’s a view by West Germans that East Germans are second-class citizens,″ Feltes said.

″It’s wonderful but it will take a long time to accomplish and maybe only the next generation will realize the benefits from this change,″ said Maria Grewe of Gering, Neb. She grew up outside Munich, Germany.

″It’s very rewarding,″ said Donald Tillman, president of the German Society of Maryland, whose father and uncles came from Dusseldorf. ″We kind of won the Cold War without shots being fired.″

Men who fought in World War II in Europe have a different viewpoint.

″They have a right to live,″ said John Loughlin, 69, who spent more than a year and nine months in a German prisoner-of-war camp, where he got regular beatings.

″Why hold a grudge?″ Loughlin, who lives at the Rhode Island Veterans Home at Bristol, R.I., said Tuesday. ″You’ve got to forgive.″

″Forgive but don’t forget,″ said Daniel Sullivan, 80, who served in England and Germany in World War II. ″You might be walking away and get hit on the back of the head.″

Germany’s wounds must be healed, said Rhode Islander Beatrice O’Donnell, 81, who was a nurse with the rank of captain at a military hospital in England during World War II.

″The less division we have, the better off we are,″ she said. ″It caused a lot of animosity with that (Berlin) wall up. The hard feelings were magnified by it many times.″

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